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Sasuke has known the girl with the pink hair who’s been growing against the cage’s sharp edges for more than half his life. She’s a scrawny thing, barely feed, never let out of her cage, she reeks and never talks. She’s been forgotten in most aspects, since the first time Sasuke ever interacted with her.

Sasuke doesn’t know a life outside of sound and Orochimaru-Sama’s care. Or at least doesn’t remember one. He’s always been treated fairly with the Sannin, spoiled in almost everything since he was four and his life around the man started.

He remembers going down to Kabuto’s lab with Orochimaru-Sama one day when he was six and looking at the cage right away. “Who’s that?” He asked, already accustomed to witness slavery and abuse as a normal thing. 

“She’s Sakura-chan.” Smiled Orochimaru-Sama. “She’s Kabuto’s.”

“Kabuto’s?” Asked Sasuke confused. He didn’t know people could own other people, or why Kabuto deserved to have the pretty girl on the cage. She looked sad, scared and miserable. Sasuke would do a much better job of taking care of her.

“Yes, I found her in a park in Konoha.” Answered Kabuto, coming into view from the shadows. “She was so pretty and her colors were so bright that I had to take her with me. Isn’t that right, Sakura-chan?” The girl didn’t respond.

“And why is she on a cage?”

“Poor thing, still doesn’t want to be a good girl.” Said Orochimaru-Sama in a fake saddened voice. “Probably has that Will of fire bullshit already brainwashed on her pretty head.”

“The will of fire?” The concept sounded incredible, like coming out of the Samurai era stories he sometimes heard on his travels with Orochimaru-Sama. 

“It’s a philosophy by which we… The people of Konoha, steer their lives and conduct.” He explained as if it was one of his classes. “They believe the fire on their spirits burns bright and strong, that they can live on by their will and their courage alone.” Laughed the Sannin, watching Sasuke’s awestruck features with sick amusement, “but every flame extinguishes, and so, the people of Konoha burn bright and warm for just a moment until they die.”

The girl never gave up on Kabuto’s wishes, whatever sick thing he expected from her. Maybe Orochimaru was right, maybe she had the will of fire burned into her soul. Maybe her will was slowly killing her.

In return, Kabuto left the girl to root on her cage. Her shoulder blades, sharp and her skin cutting onto the bone, the bars of the cage hurting her, burying themselves through her skin. 

Sasuke found himself captivated by her.

She had fire on her green, red-shot eyes, even after years of crying until she just didn’t have the liquids stored in her body to so. The spoiled boy of Orochimaru-Sama liked the way everyday Kabuto asked her if she was ready to be a good girl and how everyday she glared at him until the medic sighed and left her alone. He liked her pretty and yet dirty long, pink hair. 

He liked her, but she made him feel guilty, because she probably hated him, too. Just as she hated Orochimaru-Sama and Kabuto.

“Why don’t you say yes?” He asked her one day, when he was twelve and assumed she was the same age, and surprisingly, the girl on the cage answered.

“Because.” Cracked her tired voice, “girls are not objects, people can’t be owned.”

He started taking care of her, after that. Feeding her, giving her water, cleaning her through the bars of the cage. Sasuke wanted her to still be defiant, to keep her obstinate resistance going against her captors. And so, he supplied her with the tools to maintain her little revolution.

He’s fifteen now, and he’s aware of the plans Orochimaru has for him. He’s been travelling alone. Found a man, a brother with the same eyes he learned to master at a young age. The man told him he had a surname, an important name to honour, even if he and his brother were the last Uchihas left alive.

His brother, Itachi, told him Orochimaru kidnapped him as a child, to steal his body, to steal his eyes. 

Everything starts to make sense the more Itachi explains, and so, alongside his brother he decides to escape, to kill the man if he can, and to finally be free of him.

But he needs to take her with him.

In the verge of his sixteen birthday, Orochimaru offers him a wish, anything he wants. Sasuke knows this is Orochimaru’s sick idea of a last supper.

“I want her.” He demands, and even as he is sure Orochimaru knows of who’s he talking  about, Sasuke clarifies. “Sakura, I want Sakura.”

“So you like the girl, huh?” Smirks Orochimaru, not even waiting for an answer “Alright,” nods the Sannin, “Kabuto wasn’t doing anything with her anyway.”

He speed walks to her cage on the lab just as his kidnapper hands him the key. He opens her prison in a hurry but extracts her from the cage with the utmost care, she’s almost infused in the thing, it would be disgusting for anyone if he could ever feel disgust for Sakura.

But he can’t. So, as her naked, bloody and skeletical body falls on his arms, Sasuke holds her close to his body, but not tight enough for her to feel the strain on her wounds.

“Don’t worry, Sakura.” He murmurs kindly “You and I are going to get out of here. We’re going back to Konoha.”

He’s promising things he doesn’t know he can actually do. First of all he’s aware Orochimaru is planning to assimilate his body in a few days, maybe giving him some time to enjoy his gift. That it’s the only moment he knows Orochimaru will be vulnerable enough to kill him. 

And even if he comes up victorious from his fight, there’s no reassurance Konoha will welcome them with open arms, after so many years living under Orochimaru in Sound.

But Sakura deserves the hope, deserves the dream of going home after so many years of slavery, she deserves freedom, deserves a hero.

Sasuke has the will of fire carved on his soul, he will burn bright and deadly for her freedom.